What Will It Take To Fix Your Ministry?
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Leaders’ minds are often conditioned to be on the lookout —
always waiting for that next big thing that’s going to come along
and make our ministries shine in their effectiveness and
uniqueness. While there are great strengths in having an adaptive
mindset, leaders can fall prey to shortsightedness when constantly
changing course or chasing trends and fads.
I’m a great example. I have two weaknesses: I love new stuff and
I love projects. New stuff is just cool, and completing projects
gives me a sense of accomplishment. So whenever a new thing comes
along in children’s ministry, I’m gung ho for it. I jump in with
both feet, the project takes a couple weeks or months to complete,
and when I’m done I feel like I’ve accomplished something. But have
I — really? I look around and realize that many of my same core
issues and problems are still there, and I have to ask myself, What
was all that time and effort for?
Don’t get me wrong. Many advances in children’s ministry have
transformed our ability to effectively minister to children and
families today. But sometimes leaders expend a lot of energy
chasing the next big thing, assuming it’ll “fix” a ministry or make
it better — sometimes to a fault.
Here’s how I challenge myself: I must discern between the
difference between a “real” fix and a “felt” fix. Real fixes happen
when an already healthy ministry adopts a new strategy or gives a
nod to a new trend. A felt fix happens when an unhealthy ministry
uses a new strategy or trend as a bandage and doesn’t root out the
So if your ministry is struggling or you’re aware of problems,
don’t assume a big change will remedy it. In fact, it may make the
situation worse. It’s far better to invest all that energy into
building on your strengths while shoring up weaknesses. That’s not
to say leaders shouldn’t seek new technologies, resources, or
methods. That’s not to say you shouldn’t consider organizational
changes. But even with these structural changes, consider them
within reason. There’ll always be a new trend to follow or a new
ministry strategy to implement — but these won’t correct or
override fundamental problems within your ministry. Consider these
basic measures of health before you go after the next big thing in
• Relationships — At all levels, relationships
are critical to your ministry’s success. Whether it’s your
relationship with your team members, a toddler teacher’s
relationship with parents, kids’ relationships with each other, or
everyone’s relationship with God, relationships are the underlying
support of everything you do. How are the relationships in your
ministry? Are relationships a core value that’s receiving the
appropriate importance currently?
• Buy-In — The amount of people’s buy-in can
mean the difference between success and failure. If you’ve tried
previous changes in course or strategy and they failed, ask
yourself whether you had buy-in from key players. For any
initiative, you must have the much-needed buy-in of your leaders,
parents, congregation, and team members.
• Functionality — You may’ve worked hard to
develop positive, lasting relationships. You may have the vocal
buy-in of your leaders and others. But if you can’t execute or
function as a team, all is for naught. Your organization needs to
run like a well-oiled machine. People need accountability. They
need a roadmap so they know where they’re going. They need to see
the fruits of their labor. They need to know what they’re doing
matters. And they need you to be the overseer of the organization
by fine-tuning, assessing, and troubleshooting. Functionality is
key to a healthy ministry.
I love cutting-edge ministry ideas and strategies and I use them
often, but sometimes I have to force myself to step back and ask,
Is this a real fix or a felt fix? Spending energy on real fixes,
which revolutionize the way we do ministry and our effectiveness at
it is never a waste of time. When you’re able to properly discern
your ministry’s needs, then you can run your heart out chasing
after the next big thing.
Bill Anderson is a family life pastor in Berlin, Ohio, and
the Leading Volunteers columnist for Children’s Ministry
Magazine. Learn more about Children’s Ministry
Professional Edition at www.childrensministry.com/leader